Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jenner & Block to Release 10 Partners

Amid proud announcements of Super Lawyers recognition, Pro Bono achievements, Working Woman awards, and Who's Who Legal: Illinois accomplishments, Chicago-based Jenner & Block has also notified 10 equity and non-equity partners that their services will no longer be needed.

"In this economy, we have to be particularly vigilant and are taking a hard look at every area of expense," said managing partner Susan Levy in a statement issued by the firm.

This is clearly an unfortunate career setback for the attorneys involved, who devoted many years of dedicated hard work to the difficult task of achieving partner-level status. We hope they will find future opportunities more ideally suited to their skills.

The firm's focus on expense tells a tale. Attorneys who represent an expense to the firm, rather than a profit center, are most definitely at greater employment risk in today's volatile economic climate. As lucrative deals become harder to find and lack of financing causes corporate cut backs, the attorneys who will survive are those who have learned how to attract and retain clients through even the most challenging business cycles.

Both the firm and the attorney lose when partner or associate sales skills fail to generate sufficient revenue. For those attorneys who are facing this economic downturn with rusty or inadequate business development skills, here are some basic activities that can provide short term relief:
  • Formalize your referral networking program. Create a 1-2 page plan that lists who sends you business (i.e., accountants, bankers, non-competing attorneys) and set a schedule for how often you should meet with them to share leads.
  • Market to your current clients. This is generally the fastest route to new revenue.
  • Start the dinner circuit again if you stopped attending industry events and bar association meetings. Get out, shake hands and pass out your card. Of course, you will want to do this strategically and not indiscrimately.
  • Evaluate your sales pipeline. Identify your best prospects and the "next step" that will get you closer to the sale.
  • Look for speaking and publishing opportunities. While this tends to be a longer-term cycle, it is a best practice to always be cultivating places where you can demonstrate your legal knowledge in a non-commercial, educational format.

As the Rainmaking Lady says, never stop marketing! Business development is a process and not an event. It takes a focused attorney marketing plan with effective execution to get new clients.

Read the full story on Jenner & Block in the National Law Journal.

1 comment:

Ford Harding said...

Margaret:

This post should be read by all professionals. I meet people who tell me they don't have to work at bringing in business, because theirs is not an up-or-out firm. In tough times all firms are up-or-out firms. All professionals should be aware of that.

Ford Harding